Part 1 Background to the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development prepared by Marta Iris, Good Shepherd NGO Designate, Santigo, Chile. Original in Spanish. English Translation by Victor Carrasco

Spanish Text can be read here:   Informe 1-Rio+20 (1)

Introduction RIO+20 – 1st Part

SUBJECT: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 13-22 June 2012.
Date of preparation of Report: April 24, 2012.
Report prepared by: Marta Iris López C.

I. What is sustainable, supportable or everlasting?
Sustainability requires a worthy standard of living that does not compromise the needs of future generations.
This means to raise a series of questions to find better ways of doing things. Such issues include:
• How to help people lift themselves out of poverty and get good jobs while protecting the environment?
• How to provide everybody access to clean energy and ensure that our energy needs do not contribute to climate change?
• How to make sure that everyone gets water, food and the nutrition they need?
• How to get that our cities offer a decent quality of life for all citizens?
• How to create better transportation systems that may allow us to get where we want without causing too much congestion and pollution?
• How to make sure that our oceans healthy and the sea life is not threatened by pollution and climate change?
• How to ensure that our communities will withstand natural disasters?
Solving these issues is the beginning in building the future we want.
Sustainable, Supportable or Everlasting Development is the development that meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the possibilities of future generations to meet their own needs. (Principle 3, Rio Declaration)
The aim of sustainable development is to define viable projects and to reconcile economic development, social development, and environmental protection.
The concept of sustainable development reflects an increasing awareness of the contradiction that can occur between development, primarily understood as economic growth and enhancement of the material standard of living, and the ecological and social conditions intended to eventually achieve this development. This awareness of the human, natural and environmental costs of development and progress has come to
modify the attitude of carelessness or justification about it that prevailed for a long time. The idea of a limitless economic growth on behalf of which everything could be sacrificed was replaced by the awareness of those limits, and of the importance of creating long term conditions that make possible that a well-being for the present generation should not be at the price of a threat or degradation of future life conditions for the humanity.

II. World Conferences
The first Earth Summit, UN Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm, June 16, 1972, expresses for the first time worldwide the concerns about the environmental global issues.
The second Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, June 3-14, 1992, laid the foundations. The UN Conference on Environment and Development established the Agenda 21, approved the Climate Change Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio Declaration) and the Statement of Principles on Forests
Wide publicity is given to the term sustainable development to the general public. The original definition of the Brundtland Report –focused on the preservation of the environment and the prudent consumption of natural non renewable resources- is amended to the idea of the “three pillars” that must be reconciled in a perspective of sustainable development: economic progress, social justice, and environmental preservation.
This Summit gave momentum to the Earth Charter, which represents the values and principles related to sustainability. This document -a declaration of global ethics for a sustainable world- was developed based on a highly participatory global process, for a period of 10 years, which culminated in 2000.

III. The third UN Conference on Sustainable Development: What is «Río+20»?

«Rio+20» is the short form to refer to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to take place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) on June 2012, twenty years after the historical Earth Summit, held in Rio in 1992. Also, Rio+20 is an opportunity to look at the future that we want in 20 years.
At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet.
It is a historic opportunity to define pathways to a sustainable future: a future with more jobs, with cleaner energy, with greater safety and a decent standard of living for all.
«Rio+20 will be one of the most important global meetings on sustainable development in our time”. United Nations General Secretary – Ban Ki-moon

Why do we need Rio+20?
If we want to leave the future generations a world in which life is possible, the problems of widespread poverty and environmental destruction need to be tackled now.
• At present the world has 7 billion inhabitants. By 2050, there will be 9 billion.
• One out of every five people, i.e. 1.4 billion, currently lives on $1.25 a day or less.
• A billion and a half people in the world do not have access to electricity.
• Two and a half billion people have no sanitation.
• Almost a billion people go hungry every day.
• Greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, and more than a third of all known species could go extinct if climate change continues unchecked.
Objectives of Rio+20 Conference
• Securing a renewal of the political commitment to sustainable development
• Assessing progress and gaps in the implementation of the commitments agreed, and
• Deal with new and emerging challenges.
Themes of the Rio+20 Conference
• A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication
• Institutional framework for sustainable development

IV. Mission of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.
The Congregation Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd was affiliated as an NGO with consultative status at the UN with the purpose of holding talks and advocating for “those who are oppressed by abject poverty”. (Statement, 29th Congregational Chapter-2009)
Through the International Office of Justice and Peace, Sister Winifred Doherty (Representative of the Congregation to the UN), is the Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development in New York. This NGO Committee is driving proposals and campaigns to eradicate poverty. Poverty Eradication is the binding theme of the Congregation with the Rio+20 Conference.

Original Spanish, translated to English by Victor Carrasco

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